No Insurance/No Cause of Action – Caviglia v. Royal Tours

Yesterday, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided Caviglia v. Royal Tours of America. The holding of the Court affirmed the constitutionality of N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5 and reversed an Appellate Division opinion written by Judge Pressler and reported at 355 N.J. Super 1 (App. Div. 2002).

The relevant statute is printed below. Note that it bars an action for economic (medicals) and non-economic (pain and suffering) damages in 4 situations. They include:

1. Driving without liability insurance;
2. drunk driving;
3. refusal to take a breath test; and
4. purposefully causing injury to self or another.

So, in the case of a drunk driver who is struck from the rear and severely injured, his or her plea in municipal court to a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 would foreclose a subsequent lawsuit for economic or non-economic damages. So too will a refusal to take the breath test. These are critically important collateral consequences of a conviction in municipal court.

Please further note that the provisions of N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5 do not bar a subsequent lawsuit to recover property damages (Mody v. Brooks, 339 N.J. Super. 392 (App. Div. 2001)) or a suit based upon social host liability (Camp v Lummino, 352 N.J. Super. 414 App. Div. 2002).

N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5 provides:

. Any person who, at the time of an automobile accident resulting in injuries to that person, is required but fails to maintain medical expense benefits coverage mandated by section 4 of P.L.1972, c.70 (C.39:6A-4), section 4 of P.L.1998, c.21 (C.39:6A-3.1) or section 45 of P.L.2003, c.89 (C.39:6A-3.3) shall have no cause of action for recovery of economic or noneconomic loss sustained as a result of an accident while operating an uninsured automobile.

b. Any person who is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, operating a motor vehicle in violation of R.S.39:4-50, section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a), or a similar statute from any other jurisdiction, in connection with an accident, shall have no cause of action for recovery of economic or noneconomic loss sustained as a result of the accident.

c. Any person acting with specific intent of causing injury to himself or others in the operation or use of an automobile shall have no cause of action for recovery of economic or noneconomic loss sustained as a result of an accident arising from such conduct.

Download Caviglia v. Royal Tours

Copyright 2004 – Muni-mail – all rights (and lefts) reserved.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive